Saturday, April 4, 2009

Understanding

In the few moments I had on Friday to check my regular blog reads, I noticed that Benjamin Harju announced publicly that he has left the LCMS to unite with the Orthodox Church.

Having watched the painful online train wrecks which have occurred when other LCMS clergy have left the Lutheran Church for Orthodoxy, I wondered if I should bother looking in on the comments of the posts from the various folks who addressed this particular family's decision. In one sense I have seen it before and so nothing said by anyone about this was likely to shock me (again). Yet in another sense, I also know that reading such stuff deeply affects me and causes me great despair.

But since I have remembered this family in prayer in recent weeks, I did read most of the comments I saw. Oh sure, those notorious for their attacks upon those who have struggled and left the LCMS showed up for this, in the name of "defending the faith," or whatever, to have their say. And their say is the same old schtick I've read various other times that this has come up. While their "say" often comes under the guise of defending the denomination, it clearly comes at the expense of Christian witness. Commenters who react and accuse those whose actions they do not understand seem to think that by their comments they have won a battle of sorts, but of course, by these comments and accusations they lose the war - missing the bigger picture completely. So it was fairly easy for me to just blow these predictable reactions off when I saw them this time. Yet there were others who obviously care who honestly said, "I just can't understand how you could do this."

For those who are sincerely trying to understand, it's difficult to live with the notion that you may NEVER understand why someone would leave the Lutheran faith for Orthodoxy (and by the way, that's not always an easy thing for those of us who have left, either, for many of us continue to love many Lutherans). But perhaps it's best to consider that understanding why someone does what they do isn't what's really important here. What's really important, I think, is our response.

I was greatly moved and encouraged to note that some do understand the bigger picture. For example, the first comment to Benjamin Harju's post, from Pr. Christopher Hall:
"I know this was difficult for you, and no doubt you will lose many "friends" because of this decision, but not this one."

May God bless your simple witness, Pr. Hall. For whether or not you understand the decision of your former colleague, I think you clearly understand something much more important.

I was also pleased to note that Pr. Hall wasn't the only one who understands the bigger point.

5 comments:

Anastasia Theodoridis said...

Ditto to everything you say here.

And a long, blessed life to all the Harjus!

Christopher D. Hall said...

Thank you for the kind words, though I don't deserve them and feel embarrassed a little.

Peace to you during this Holy Week (at least for us :) )

Benjamin Harju said...

-C,

Your humanity towards us is divine. Thank you.

Jason said...

Nice post Cha.

-C said...

Pr. Hall -
Please don't feel embarassed. Ultimately, our response to everything (whether we understand or not) must be one of love, as your response was. There was something of Christ in your simple comment, and I was deeply moved by it.

Ben - Thanks for your visit and kind comment. How often I have thought about you and your family in recent weeks! May God grant you all a peaceful catechumenate until you are joyously received into the Orthodox Church.

Jason - Gee, thanks.